Claire Jarrell


Coal mines throughout Appalachia have left the land scarred and the water damaged. Although mine reclamation programs are the only major system of recourse for addressing environmental degradation caused by mining, the downturn of the coal market has put reclamation programs in a precarious position for achieving that end. Funds for coal mine reclamation are derived from the current coal industry's profits. As coal profits continue to atrophy, so too does the pot of money designated for reclamation efforts. These dwindling financial resources are particularly problematic because there is still significant need for reclamation funding throughout Appalachia.

This Comment explores the interaction among the legal and regulatory frameworks for mine reclamation, pervasive degradation of public health and the environment caused by coal mining, and the coal economy's decline. Analysis of this interaction exposes the need for a new system of mine reclamation to remedy the environmental degradation left by legacy coal mines throughout Appalachia. Although environmentalists generally applaud the demise of the coal industry, under the existing regulatory scheme the fall of King Coal may also entail perpetual pollution in the coal fields throughout Appalachia. As such, this Comment proposes ways to move forward and complete reclamation efforts in the age of a withering coal industry.